SHORTBUS (John Cameron Mitchell). 102 minutes. Opens October 6 at the Cumberland. For times, see page 104. Q&A w/ Lee Oct 6 at 10 pm. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Believe the hype. Shortbus really is the most sexually explicit non-porn film around. We're talking hard-ons, full penetration and enough money shots to open a sperm bank account. There's even an auto-fellatio scene that practically demands that curious guys try it at home. (Just watch your lower back.)
Strange thing, though. Once you get past the early montage of sex scenes, Shortbus becomes a sweet, thoughtful look at commitment and relationships.
It follows a dozen New Yorkers, including a gay couple (PJ DeBoy and Paul Dawson) considering an open relationship, their married couples therapist (Sook-Yin Lee), who's never had an orgasm, and a dominatrix escort who lives in a storage locker (Lindsay Beamish).
Their lives converge in the artificial setting of the titular sex club. (A quibble: the title, which director John Cameron Mitchellhas explained in interviews, doesn't come up in the film itself.)
What's remarkable is the way Mitchell plays against our expectations, whether he's showing a senior citizen trying to negotiate his way into an orgy or the dominatrix nervously stumbling when she tries to have a "normal" conversation.
And it's a hilariously subversive film, especially a scene where the U.S. national anthem gets "performed" (you gotta see it) during a three-way.
Mitchell's direction is playful throughout, invigorating the medium for a been-there, done-that, seen-the-movie generation.